Pexels is founded in 2014 and it hosts an abundance of free stock photos and even videos. It was acquired by Canva in 2018, an Australian-founded online design editing application.
Pixabay is a website founded in Germany, which as it turns out, was also acquired by Canva in 2019. Aside from free stock photos, it also hosts videos, illustrations, and vector graphics.
Unsplash is another website where you can find free stock photos of great quality. Irvue, a MacOS application for changing desktop wallpapers automatically, sources its selections from Unsplash.
- Read More: How to Change Your MacOS Wallpaper Automatically.
What You Legally Can and Cannot Do
The purpose of stock photos is to allow anyone easy access to use a photographer's copyrighted work, but there are still dos and don'ts that should be respected.
The three above websites allow you to:
- Download their photos for free
- Use their photos without attribution, although it would be appreciated
- Use their photos for both personal and commercial purposes
- Modify their photos
Generally, what you are not allowed to do are:
- Redistribute the photos to other stock photo or wallpaper websites
- Portray identifiable people in a way that is offensive
- Portray identifiable brands in a way that is misleading
- Sell unaltered content (for example, selling a photo as is without modification, e.g. as a poster, physical/digital product)
For more information on what you can or cannot do for the photos on each of the above websites, here are links to the usage licenses you can review:
Sometimes certain photos can be very difficult to find, but you might get lucky by browsing what you're looking for in Wikipedia. Some photos in Wikipedia are released to the public domain, meaning anyone can use them with very little to no restrictions.
You can also try searching for photos directly in Wikimedia Commons.
But, keep in mind that media licenses can vary across Wikipedia pages as authors/photographers have more freedom to set their own license type when uploading their photos to the website.
Upon clicking on a photo in Wikipedia, you should be able to find its license type displayed below. Some common license types include:
There are certainly more license types available that vary from one photo to another, and it's advisable to review them so you know what you're allowed to do with each photo you obtain from the website.